The Desert Experience

Often the important thing is being able to let go of unrealistic goals and  expectations and instead be obedient to the reality in which we find ourselves. Being flexible, creative and making good decisions in the particular circumstances is harder than it sounds, as fixed plans, ideals and pre-set objectives can hold sway. Ignatian freedom is the letting go of these deceptive attachments in order to come to better decisions. ‘Discretion is the better part of valour’ or, in Ignatian language, discerning good decisions is being humble in the face of reality. 

Excerpted from Brothers in Arms by Brendan McManus SJ (pp: 57-58)

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Discovering God Daily

Finding God in the messy bits and pieces of our lives is enormously challenging. Many prefer to escape in sanitised, blissful and ‘holy’ experiences far removed from the daily hubris that surrounds us. The challenge remains to believe that God is with us and, while not causing life’s chaos and unpredictability, works powerfully to shape and mould us through these experiences. Think of the image of the potter and the clay (Jeremiah 18: 1-4) where being broken and remade reveals the nature of God’s loving care, and where ideas of perfection and ‘getting it right first time’ are unhelpful.

Excerpted from Discover God Daily: Seven life-changing moments from the journey of St Ignatius by Brendan McManus SJ and Jim Deeds


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Long Live Indifference

Asking yourself about your inner freedom, investigating what your purpose in life really is, is valuable for your personal search for more quality of life. Mildness and humility are important here. It is almost inevitable that we will attach ourselves in a way that can make our inner self not free. As a young Jesuit, an elderly fellow brother spoke to me about white rabbits: a little boy shows his best friend his toy cabinet and says to him: ‘I love you, you can choose what you want, it is a gift for you. Only … my white rabbit, you can’t take that, because it’s really just for me.’

We all have a few white rabbits, big things or small things, postures, dynamics … to which we are more attached than we would like and of which we are sometimes not proud. It’s human nature. It’s a big step if you can admit to yourself that they exist. Maybe as the years go by you can say goodbye to your white rabbit but there is a good chance that something else will replace it.

Excerpted from Living with Ignatius: On the Compass of Joy by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ (pp.36-37)

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Discernment is trying to make a good decision based on the situation in which one finds oneself. The first level of decision-making revolves around the pros and cons, the reasons for and against a decision. Situations are complex and often fluid, with many factors in play. There is an element of reflection, of creating space and trying to review the decision from different points of view. The process does take some time, though, and can’t be rushed.

Excerpted from Brothers in Arms  by Brendan McManus SJ (p.8)

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We are here to love and serve God

The examen is a tool we use along the way – to find God in our lives, to discover what needs to be done, to reflect on our actions and motives and to make good choices.

That, in a nutshell, is what Ignatian spirituality is all about. Ignatius brought contemplation and action together, but the senior partner in the alliance is action. In the Ignatian scheme of things, we love and serve God by being joined with Christ in the work of saving and healing the world. The end of the examen is action – responding to God more faithfully, discerning our part in Christ’s mission, and making good decisions about how to fulfil it.

Excerpted from A Simple Life-Changing Prayer by Jim Manney (p. 76)

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Great to Be Young

The third Jesuit preference is to ‘accompany the young in the creation of a hope-filled future’… Accompanying young people in the creation of a hope-filled future can be challenging. Apart from positive role models, what can be done to promote a hope-filled future for young people? The most obvious response is the opportunity for a young person to be supported in having as good an education and formation as possible, addressing all aspects of the human person – intellectual, social, psychological, physical, spiritual and religious. Retelling the positive events of a community’s story is also critical, because it reminds us of what we’re capable of and how to achieve it. It also reinforces the relational aspect of our identity, reminding us that each individual is part of a bigger story.

Excerpted from Reimagining Religion : A Jesuit Vision by Jim Maher SJ

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Prayer for Life

The first and most important part of life’s prayer is thanksgiving, looking back in particular at the events of the past that have given you comfort.  What in the past period has given you joy, space, strength, courage, rest …? Take a moment to let that look, that word, that image, that music, that gesture, that idea … return to your eyes or ears, to taste it in your heart… This consolation, however small and insignificant it may seem, says something about how and where you experienced God. These small details are more important than spectacular events. After all, the latter occur rarely, or never. On the other hand, our lives are full of ‘banal’ occurrences. If you learn to distinguish God’s presence in these events, then you are on a golden path that offers itself daily and continuously.

Excerpted from Living with Ignatius: On the Compass of Joy by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ (p.49)

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There is No Need to Be Afraid

‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ – Luke 12:32

Jesus assures us that there is no need to be afraid of the future. Life is a pilgrimage that keeps moving. The kingdom of God on earth could be described as a society of justice and peace. We should try to live a life in love and service in order to build up this kingdom. When we do so, we obtain real wealth, not just for ourselves, but for others. This approach means that we are ready to meet Jesus, our shepherd, at any time.

Excerpted from God in Every Day: A Whispered Prayer  by Deirdre Powell, (p.95)

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Every night I try to think of three things in the day that has passed that I can give thanks for. Sometimes it requires a bit of a struggle because something may have happened in that day that has obscured any sense of gratitude. However, and to be honest,  there are always at least three things to give gratitude for: The little bit of wisdom that ‘gratitude is often the shortest-lived emotion’ has forced me to dwell on those things I give thanks for. When I think of the things in my day that I can say ‘thank you’ for, rather than swallow them quickly, I savour them and dwell on them.

Excerpted from Dipping Into Life by Alan Hilliard (p.36)

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Obedience Yes, Sorcery, No

Ignatius’s attitude to life challenges us, the modern people of the twenty-first century. It was probably confrontational in its radicality even in his own time. Because of his attitude he asks us what and how we believe. In particular, he asks Christians whether they really believe in the God revealed by Jesus, an ever-creating God who is lovingly close to men at all times of the day and night. We will probably often have to answer this question with the words that the father of the possessed boy addressed to Jesus:
I believe, help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24)

Excerpted from Living with Ignatius: On the Compass of Joy by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ (p.29)

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